Writing, Critique Partnerships and Other Stories

From a community of writers, critique partners and beta readers.

Sep 14, 2020

Agent Spotlight Series: Danya Kukafka

Danya Kukafka Spotlight image
A warm welcome to literary agent Danya Kukafka! Danya is a graduate of New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized study, and the author of the novel Girl in Snow. She began her publishing career at Riverhead Books as an acquiring assistant editor, where she worked with authors like Meg Wolitzer, Paula Hawkins, Lauren Groff, Brit Bennett, Emma Straub, Gabriel Tallent, Helen Oyeyemi, Maile Meloy, Sigrid Nunez, and many, many more. Released in 2017, her debut novel Girl in Snow was a national bestseller.

Sep 8, 2020

Agent Spotlight Series: Melissa Edwards

Melissa Edwards Agent Spotlight image
A warm welcome to literary agent Melissa Edwards! Melissa joined Stonesong as a literary agent in August 2016. Previously, she was a literary agent at the Aaron Priest Literary Agency, where she managed the foreign rights for a forty-year backlist. After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis and Vanderbilt Law School, Melissa began her career as a litigation attorney before transitioning into publishing. She is a tireless advocate for her clients and a constant partner during the publication process and beyond. Melissa also acts as a contract consultant for authors and agents under the business MLE ConsultingShe can be found on Twitter @MelissaLaurenE, where she often tweets her active Manuscript Wishlist requests under #MSWL.

Sep 1, 2020

Agent Spotlight Series: Andrea Somberg

Andrea Somberg Spotlight picture
We are thrilled to kick off our Agent Spotlight series with Andrea Somberg, a literary agent for almost twenty years. Ms. Somberg’s books have been NYTimes and USABestsellers, winners of ALA’s Alex Award and the Nebula, nominated for The Edgar Award, The Governor General’s Award, the Lambda Award, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, the Ohioana Award and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, and named best books of the year by NYPublic Library and Book of the Month Club. Ms. Somberg also teaches courses for MediaBistro and Writers Digest on topics such as middle grade, nonfiction, memoir, mystery and thrillers, fantasy and sf.

Aug 20, 2020

Author Interview Series: Emma Dhesi

CritiqueMatch: A warm welcome to writer and writing coach Emma Dhesi! Thanks for joining us on our blog. Let’s start off with your background. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you decided to become a writing coach.
Emma: I’ve been writing, on and off, since I was a child. Over the years I’ve attended lots of workshops, evening classes and seminars. I’ve read the books and watched the YouTube videos. I’ve poured over author interviews looking for that secret formula, but it wasn’t until I was in my forties I discovered the secret! 

Aug 10, 2020

3 Common Errors when Critiquing Someone’s Work.

Does a slow sense of dread crawl up your arms at the thought of offering critical feedback to another writer? Do you question your critiquing abilities, thinking, what do I know that the other writer doesn’t? Do you wonder if you crossed an invisible line by that one particularly problematic area you pointed out? Was your feedback too little? Too much? Too harsh?

Just know that you’re not the only one asking these questions. Giving honest feedback can be hard and does require a touch of diplomacy so as not to crush your partner’s creative dreams.

Here are 3 things to consider when exchanging feedback.

Aug 3, 2020

Author Interview Series: J M Lasley

The CritiqueMatch contest coordinator “sat down” for a virtual chat with J M Lasley, the winner of the 1st FictionFive Contest.


CM: Congratulations on being the winner of the 1st CritiqueMatch FictionFive Contest! Tell us, what emotions are going through your head right now?

JML: Honestly, the first thing that went through my head when I got the announcement was, is this real? I had to reread the first paragraph a few times before it sunk in what it was saying. I honestly could not believe that I had won. It is such a great feeling! With all the chaos of this year, it was exactly the kind of good news I needed. I’m surprised, pleased, grateful, humbled, and excited for the future.

Jul 31, 2020

FictionFive Contest - Results!

We are thrilled to announce the results of the 1st CritiqueMatch FictionFive Contest!

And the winner is… drum roll please…

Jul 1, 2020

FictionFive Contest


FictionFive Contest for Unpublished Writers!

The contest has closed and the results are in! 

Check here to view the winner and finalists. 


Contest Highlights

Submit the first 1,500 words of your unpublished manuscript and get a detailed score sheet with feedback from 5 top-rated writers—the CritiqueMatch community is known for providing constructive and encouraging feedback! The top rated entry wins $250. The top 3 finalists in each genre category receive a developmental editor’s feedback! 

Timeline:
- Submissions open: June 1, 2020
- Submissions close: June 30, 2020 at 11:59p.m. EST.
- Finalists announced: July 31, 2020
- Score sheets sent to all entrants: within 30 days from finalists announcement.

- Top prize: $250 gift card.
Top 3 finalists in each genre category: feedback from a developmental editor.
All entrants: feedback from 5 top-rated writers on CritiqueMatch.
All score-sheets with the judges' feedback have been returned to the contest participants via email. If you have not received your score-sheets, email us at contest (at) critiquematch {dot} com.

Genre Categories:
- Fantasy
- Science Fiction
- Romance
- Thriller
- Mystery

SubmissionThe first 1,500 words of your unpublished manuscript. No synopsis necessary. Your manuscript can be partially completed at the time you submit the first 1,500 words.

Fee
* We will donate 10% of the contest's proceeds to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) organization to support its important work to ensure justice, unity, and equality for all.

Payment: Credit Card

Judges
First round: top-rated CritiqueMatch peer writers. 
Second round: developmental editors.


Not ready to enter? Volunteer to judge instead! 
View the Score Sheet to be used by the judges.
Do you have questions? Email us here.

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Judging
CritiqueMatch promotes Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in our contest. Any writers regardless of their race, color, gender, religion, age, disability, or sexual orientation are welcome to enter the FictionFive Contest. Entries are judged anonymously; as such, each entry is only judged on its writing craft merit. 
Contest entrants can also be judges in the contest.

There are two rounds of judging:
- In the first round, 5 top-rated CritiqueMatch peer writers in your genre will judge each entry. The lowest of the five scores will be dropped and the rest four scores will be averaged to create the final score of the first round. 
- The top 3 entries in each category will advance to the second round.
- In the second round, a developmental editor will score each entry. The editor’s score, on top of the first round’s score, will determine the final score and the winning entry for the top prize in the contest. 
- If there is a tie for the winning entry or the top 3 entries in each category, we will utilize the dropped score from the first round and/or an additional editor’s score, if necessary.

CritiqueMatch’s Terms of Service apply to all judges.

All submissions will get a detailed Score Sheet with feedback from a minimum of five peer writers—the CritiqueMatch community is known for providing constructive feedback! 

Would you like to volunteer to judge in our contest?
All five-star rated CritiqueMatch members in good standing can become judges!

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Contest Rules & Guidelines
  • Contest participants must be members of CritiqueMatch (sign up is free).
  • Submit the first 1,500 words of your manuscript. If more than 1,500 words are submitted, only the first 1,500 words will be judged. Please submit a minimum of 1,000 words.
  • Format: all stories must be submitted by their author in Times New Roman 12 font and double-spaced text.
  • No synopsis is required.
  • You can submit multiple stories in the contest, one per each $25 fee, but we ask that you do not submit the same story more than once.
  • We currently only accept electronic submissions of works in English language.
  • All submissions must be previously unpublished and must be your own work (Fan fiction is not eligible). Your manuscript can be unfinished.
  • All entries must be received electronically by June 30, 2020 11:59p.m. EST.
  • A submission is considered complete only when the payment has been received.
  • All entries are final. No revisions are accepted.
  • We cannot process refunds once an entry has been received.
  • The $25 entry fee helps cover the administrative cost of the contest.
  • We’ll recognize 3 finalists in each of the Five Fiction categories: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance, Thriller, Mystery. If your story crosses over several genres, we ask that you select the genre that is the most important to your plot/characters.
  • Authors retain all rights to their work. The judging will be conducted via the secure CritiqueMatch platform and the authors’ work will not be accessible to the judges once judging is completed.
  • CritiqueMatch reserves the right to cancel the contest if no more than 5 entries were received in each of the aforementioned categories. Only in this case, CritiqueMatch will provide refunds to contest entrants.
  • If you recognize the submission you were assigned to judge, please let us know and we will reassign a submission to you.
  • CritiqueMatch’s Terms of Service apply to the competition participants. 
  • No cash substitution, transfers or assignments of prize allowed. All expenses, including taxes, relating to the winner's gift card, are the sole responsibility of the winner. By accepting a prize, the winner releases CritiqueMatch from any and all liability for any loss, harm, damages, cost or expense, including without limitation property damages, personal injury and/or death, arising out of participation in this contest or the acceptance of the prize. If, for any reason, (including unauthorized intervention, technical failures, or any other cause beyond the control of CritiqueMatch which affects the administration, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of this contest), the contest is not capable of being conducted as described in these rules, CritiqueMatch shall have the right, in their sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the contest. 
  • Within approximately thirty (30) days after confirmation of the finalists, CritiqueMatch will provide all participants their prizes.
  • All participants will be individually notified of the results by e-mail.
  • This contest is void where prohibited by law.

Jun 22, 2020

We are featured in Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers!




We are thrilled to announce that CritiqueMatch has been named one of the “101 Best Websites for Writers” in the newest issue of Writer’s Digest (May/June 2020) in the “Writing Communities” category!

First and foremost, we would like to thank our members who joined the CritiqueMatch community, trusted our mission and nominated us to Writer’s Digest! It’s our members’ passion for writing and their willingness to help each other that are the building blocks of our global platform.

As the time of this post, more than 3,000 writers and beta readers from 60 countries have joined CritiqueMatch, have exchanged more than 15,000 critiques, and have written more than 350,000 comments, helping other fellow members while growing their skills as writers, editors and beta readers.

We are thrilled by what we have achieved and offered to the writing community in our first 1.5 years of service!

Thus: a huge thank you!

These achievements and the recognition from Writers Digest are boosting our enthusiasm as we continue to improve our platform—thanks also to the great feedback we receive from our users.

We are currently working hard to configure the implementation of the “Pro-Critiquer” feature, which will allow active users with high ratings to apply for and be able to get paid for critiquing services.

This feature is on top of the existing website built, which means the platform will continue to be free for users looking to find critique partners and beta readers and exchanging their work.

Our goal is to empower your voice by continuing to provide a free space where anyone can find critique partners and beta readers, grow their skills, be vetted by the community and be able to get paid while pursuing their passion.

If you’re still not a member, join us today for free!

Best,

CritiqueMatch Team



Jun 5, 2020

Make the Most of Your Isolation Writing Time

By Tia Colborne.

"Great! Now I can finally write that masterpiece I've been putting off,” said every writer in the world at the beginning of social isolation.
Be honest. Like me, you had big plans back in March. How's it going for you? 

Ya, same here. It’s tougher than I thought.

May 20, 2020

Controlling Pace with Scene and Sequel

By Tia Colborne.

I want to let you in on a secret. The day I learned about the below writing tool was the day I understood how to create exciting and engaging fiction. It’s shocking that more people don't talk about it.

It's called scene and sequel.

May 1, 2020

Finding Your Voice

By Sarah Appleyard.

Voice. We all have one. Even our characters. It is oftentimes one of the defining reasons a reader returns to buy every book an author publishes. Also, one of the key pieces of a manuscript that editors, agents, and publishers use to determine if a book is worthy, in the first place, of publishing.

Apr 27, 2020

Use of Abbreviations in Writing

By Sonia Easley.

Definitions
·      Shortened words are abbreviations. Examples are Nov. for November, Mr. for Mister, and Sr. for Senior. 
·      Acronyms and initialisms are abbreviations.
·      Acronyms are abbreviations made from the first letters of a series of words and pronounced as words on their own. Examples are NATO (North American Trade Organization), WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant), and ASAP (as soon as possible).
·      Initialisms are abbreviations made from word initials and pronounced as initials. Examples are USA (United States of America), FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), CIA (Central Intelligence Agency).

Apr 24, 2020

Writing in a Rural Location

By Tia Colborne.

I became a writer because escaping to a cabin in the woods to create sounded like a dream come true. Being alone with my thoughts writing a best-selling book is the perfect way to spend my mid-life.

Apr 22, 2020

Writing a Worthy Villain

By Jessica Hogbin.

            The last few years have produced several amazing villains, whether it be in television, literature, or film. Authors find themselves looking at these fantastic antagonists and wanting to write equally interesting characters. To achieve this, writers try to give their villains intricate backstories filled with emotion. However, sometimes this simply isn’t enough. The bad guy can simultaneously have an incredibly detailed past and physical description while still lacking the je ne sais quoi of a worthy adversary. Here are three simple questions that you can ask yourself as you write your villain to bring them to the next level of wickedness.

Apr 20, 2020

How I Use Character Development to Plot

By Renay Marsh.

I’m a character-first writer. That means my characters come to me before any other part of the story. Plot? Setting? They come afterward.
Yes, my characters appear to me. Not completely formed. Sometimes, all I get is “Hi. Will you write my story?” Other times the character pulls up a chair, plops down, makes themselves comfortable, before spilling everything. Either way, it is up to me to listen, ask questions, and get to know them.

Apr 17, 2020

Reaping the Benefits of the Writing Life

By Isabel Jolie.

In a past life, I was a business executive. One thing I discovered during that experience is that I really, truly, hate accounting. So, let me caveat everything I’m about to say with, I use a CPA. In fact, practicing accounting could be the last source of income on the planet, and I still wouldn’t attempt it. Now, with the I am not an accountant disclaimer in place...

Apr 15, 2020

Reading Your Way to Becoming a Better Writer

By Jessica Hogbin.
           
I wrote in the same genre—contemporary romance—for about four years of my life. Everything I read or produced for the pleasure of reading and writing was within one area of the writing world. But after several years of doing the same thing, it became obvious to me that I wasn’t enjoying it anymore, and that I wanted to move on. I had an idea for a book that wasn’t within my usual repertoire: I wanted to write a thriller.

Apr 13, 2020

A new era for the publishing industry: online self-publishing

By Irene Perali.

I will never get tired of saying how much technology has improved my life. Without messaging services and social networks, I wouldn't stay in touch with my friends because I feel awkward during phone calls. Without GPS, I wouldn't have seen most of the places I visited during my travels because I was scared of getting lost. Yes, I did avoid exploring remote areas of a city for this reason. 

Apr 10, 2020

How to Write a Satisfying Ending

By Jessica Hogbin.

            A satisfying book ending isn’t something that just happens; it’s something you work toward throughout your entire story. Imagine Freytag’s pyramid—your ending is everything that happens after the climax. These are known as the falling action, resolution, and denouement. These three parts are needed for a satisfying ending, especially because without them, your ending can feel rushed, unclear, and frustrating for readers.

Apr 8, 2020

3 Ways to Use Foreshadowing to Strengthen Your Novel

By Jolee McManus.

If you’re like me, you’re obsessed with finding ways to make your work-in-progress stronger. But what makes a story strong? If you ask me, the secret isn’t pulling off any one trick but a number of tricks. As we grow as writers, we collect more and more tricks up our sleeves and learn how to seamlessly work them into our writing, sometimes without even trying!

Apr 6, 2020

How Sandra Gerth Helped Me Perfect the Art of Showing Versus Telling

By Sierra Archer.

If you have been writing for even a small amount of time I am willing to bet that you have come across the concept of ‘showing versus telling’. It’s undeniably an important thing to consider when writing any kind of story. But why?
Well, let’s take a look at an example.

Apr 3, 2020

How "Save the Cat Writes a Novel" Helped Improve My Stories' Structure

By Kia Dennis.


In the eternal struggle of plotting versus pantsing, I find myself coming down squarely on the side of plotting. I need to outline–extensively! I crave structure. I’d heard the terms ‘inciting incident’ and ‘story beats,’ but for a long time, I didn’t have a handle on exactly what they were. Then, a writer friend of mine suggested I read Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody. I started skimming it in the bookstore and immediately realized why my friend swore by it.

Apr 1, 2020

Writing a Worthy Villain

By Negus Lamont.

Writing a worthy villain is crucial to any successful project. Fans flock to see Iron Man but stay to see him fight Thanos. Most people love themselves some Luke Skywalker, but they love to hate themselves some Darth Vader. And then we have King Joffrey, a character so polarizing that his death was celebrated by millions. This blog post will give you the key ingredients to writing a worthy villain, so you can create your own dastardly devil.

Mar 25, 2020

Matching Your Character’s Mood to the Setting

By Hallie Christensen.

Have you ever watched a Broadway play that was made into a feature film? There are many examples of these: The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Mamma Mia—I could go on. While there are several differences between a play and the film of that play, the one difference I want to focus on is camera angles.

Mar 23, 2020

How a Pantser Can Plot Like a Pro

By CS Wade.

Plot basically is who did what, and to whom. The emotional side of plot is motive, the reason someone does what they do. That sums up plot in the simplest fashion. Plot is the elements that make a story great: great character arcs, tension, conflict, compelling theme, danger (emotional or physical) fascinating twists, and interesting characters who engage in smart dialogue. At some point, the plot must have a dark night of the soul for your protagonist: the lowest point of the story for your protagonist. 

Mar 20, 2020

It’s not just you, it’s every writer: Common Mistakes

By Chelsea McCard.
Whether you are a novice, just starting your journey into writing, or you are a seasoned veteran with several books under your belt, writing is a process. Part of that process is making plenty of mistakes. We all have made them. And sometimes, we hardly even notice we are doing it. Even the most accomplished writers make simple blunders at first. And this is perfectly fine. These mistakes are often fixed as the writer polishes up there pieces in various stages throughout the span of each manuscript.

Mar 18, 2020

What is suspense vs. mystery? What makes these two elements important to a story?

By Ash Jackson.

Let’s take a look at the definitions for these two. 

Suspense: 

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, suspense is a state or feeling of excited or anxious uncertainty about what may happen. What does this mean to a story? As an author, creating suspense is an important part of a book. Too much suspense can kill a story while too little can make it fall flat, efficiently destroying it. It’s an emotional process that readers need to go through to fully enjoy a story and writers need to treat with care. Suspense is a threat or danger that needs to be resolved or faced head-on. It’s not about solving puzzles- far from that! 

Mar 16, 2020

Matching the character’s mood to the setting

By Chelsea McCard.
Creating a relatable character is something most authors strive to convey in their writing. It’s not always easy, though. It can often be challenging to express a character’s personality without outright telling the reader. One of the best ways to do this is by using the setting to set the desired mood.
Picture a girl sitting on the edge of a pool.

Mar 11, 2020

Writing Tension in Quiet Scenes

By Jackie Mead.

Writers spend a lot of time thinking about what excites readers. But is your scene exciting to write? No? Sounds like it needs more tension.
Tension can be summed up in one word: anticipation. Ever watched your two favorite characters from a TV show have a conversation that makes you want to scream at the screen? Maybe they are in love but too afraid to admit it. Or they hate each other due to a misunderstanding. Or one of them is trying to hide something from the other. That interaction, even if it’s only small talk, is filled with tension. You, the audience, are anticipating that something big (good or bad) might happen at any moment. 

Mar 9, 2020

Tips on Writing a Fantasy Setting

By Rosalyn Briar.


            Fantasy novels should pluck readers from their everyday life and thrust them into a magical new setting. Too often, though, writers want to reveal every detail of their world-building into a prologue or write lengthy paragraphs explaining its history. This is called “info-dumping” and can bore readers because it doesn’t immerse them into the setting or plot. Readers are intelligent and enjoy gleaming a world’s information for themselves.

Mar 6, 2020

A Writing Craft Guide for the Perplexed (Under-represented) Writer

By E. L. Diamond.

Anne Lamott’s “Shitty First Drafts” changed me. She talks about our brain-muscles clamping shut around our psychic wounds, the scar tissue in our creativity that makes us try to be safe, instead of writing dangerously. Amazing stuff. I teach “Shitty First Drafts” in my writing classes. But one thing I’ve noticed over years of creative writing classes, both taken and taught, is that the best books on writing craft that my teachers handed me and that I continue to hand out—Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Stephen King’s On Writing, Ursula K. LeGuin’s Steering the Craft, William Zinsser’s On Writing Well—are by white folks. People who’ve made a living as a writer.

Mar 4, 2020

Plotting VS Pantsing: What You Need to Know

By Brittani Rose.

            As a writer, I have struggled with finding a way to plan my novel that works for me. I have tried to be a plotter; that failed me. I tried to be a pantser; that worked wonders for me and helped me win NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Not sure what a plotter or pantser is? Let me tell you.
            A plotter is someone who works best when they have a very detailed outline and a solid plan in place when it comes to their writing. A plotter usually has every aspect of their novel planned out so that they know what they are doing at all times. When I tried this, I spent weeks planning every aspect of a novel. Every scene and detail that I felt I would need. I worked hard on an outline that told me just what to write and when. I failed because, for me, having planned all those details made me feel like I didn’t have control over the storyline anymore.

Mar 2, 2020

Time Management for Writers

By Paula Chapman, author of The Supplier, Vacation.

Ever notice the difference in the level of productivity among writers? The ones who seem super organized and always meet or exceed deadlines are not genies or part of the Marvel Team. They just possess better time management skills.

Now that’s a downer (wah-wah), some of you are thinking. Time management is for businesspeople.

Feb 28, 2020

How to Write a Killer First Line

By Yanina Wallis.

Let’s face it, we’ve all been there. We’ve all spent much longer than we care to admit anguishing over whether the first line of our novel is exciting enough. Reading it, deleting it, rewriting it, reading it, deleting it, rinse, repeat, to the point where you never think you’ll have that killer first line that your opening deserves.
The reality is, your first line doesn’t need to carry the weight of your entire novel. Take a look at any book from your collection and read the first line. Is it exciting? Sure, there are some fantastic exceptions, but the majority of books don’t open on a t-shirt worthy, instant classic.

Feb 26, 2020

Outline Your Memoir in One Day

By Imara Moses

When I finally decided to sit down and write my memoir, the idea of writing a book had been floating around in my head for a while.  Because I had been mulling over what I wanted my book to be about for some time, it only took one afternoon to write my outline. 
I have a scientific writing background, so I knew I would not be able to write a good book without first having a rough sketch of what I wanted to share.  The outline is critical to writing a book because it prevents it from being a series of random thoughts scrawled all over paper without any direction. 

Feb 24, 2020

Scene Setting Using Deep POV

By DJ Cracovia.

One of the toughest lessons to learn as a fiction writer is how to think like a writer. No, no, let’s rephrase that a little bit. What I meant to say is – the hardest lesson to learn, as a fiction writer is to think like our characters.

In recent years, more and more popular fictions are written in first person or third person close. Both POVs, aka Point of Views, lend themselves to deeper character-centered stories with less and less of the intrusive narrator’s voice. Today’s readers want to experience a story as it unfolds, and through the eyes of the main characters. Readers no longer want to be told a story, nor do they want to be told what to think by an omniscient storyteller.

Jan 30, 2020

Author Interview Series: Irene Perali

A writer's journey; a conversation with fellow writer Irene Perali about writing, technology, and expat life.

CritiqueMatch: You and I share the same passions: tech and writing. Tell us about your story.


Irene Perali: I remember the first time somebody asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up. I was four years old, and my answer was: "I want to become a writer." I wanted to be a writer before I learned how to write. I wanted to be a writer because I liked to tell stories. I had a vivid imagination, and, as soon as I discovered the power of the written language, I began to write all the stories that popped up in my mind. It felt natural and effortless to me.

Jan 3, 2020

Internal Conflict 101


By Bethany Tucker.

Conflict is the fuel of a story. It’s what makes the character burn and shine and the plot points churn. Without it, the engine, the world in which the story is told, has nothing to make it thrum with life. Conflict, however, comes in two forms, external and internal. Both are necessary for a strong story.